There are several common rooms as well as the lecture room used for large group gatherings. Wi-Fi is available throughout the College, and computers are located in the business center adjacent to the library.
Daily worship and prayer can take place in St. George’s intimate college chapel, or with the larger worshipping community at the Cathedral of St. George, located in the close. A roof-top garden provides a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the morning sunrise and evening sunset, or time can be spent reading in our library on the main floor. The guest house garden, located in the Cathedral close, as well as the Archbishop’s peace garden, feature beautiful trees and seasonal flowers throughout the year.
The overwhelming atmosphere at St. George’s College is one of hospitality; the staff and students get to know one another and share their lives during meals, tea time, site visits, and worship services.
The Bible is full of references to plants and flowers and to understand some biblical imagery it is helpful to have a knowledge of the flora of the Holy Land.
The idea of creating a biblical garden at St. George’s College in Jerusalem was first conceived in 1985. It was hoped that the garden would be a place of meeting, prayer and reflection and also a unique educational resource.
After a major renovation project in the late 1980s the grounds were in need of reconstruction. Plans were drawn up for a new biblical garden.
A new garden was designed by Mr. F. Nigel Hepper, one of the leading botanists at Kew’s Royal Botanic Gardens in London. Mr. Hepper had specialised in the plants of the Bible and written books on the subject, including Planting a Bible Garden (HMSO, 1987) andAn Illustrated Encyclopedia of Bible Plants (IVP, 1992).
The College gave certain specifications. The new garden had to be easy to maintain—so the planting of shrubs and trees was given priority over labour-intensive herbaceous plants. As the College is used throughout the year the garden needed to be colourful through the different seasons. Careful consideration was therefore given to the flowering season of a wide variety of plants and to the foliage colour.
Work on the new garden began in late 1990. Adam Toft, a British horticulturist, worked with two Palestinian gardeners to realise Nigel Hepper’s designs. Today, years later, the garden provides a real microcosm of the botanical environment experienced by Jesus, and the prophets and patriarchs before him.
Spacious paths wind through shady spots where there are tables and seats which allow visitors and students to reflect and pray. Here there are fragrant plants, lavender, sage and mint. Fruit trees—fig, pomegrantate and olive—lead to the college entrance. A Judas Tree stands with Cypresses; a young Cedar of Lebanon will give shade as it did in King Solomon’s time. The garden provides opportunities for reflection: “by planting a Christ-thorn near the date palm there is a contrast between the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem with palm leaves (symbolising victory) with the crown of thorns on the Cross”. Next to every plant there is a plaque. Each is identified by its name in Arabic, English and Latin together with a relevant biblical reference.
The dedication of the garden in May 1993 by the Most Revd. Samir Kafity—together with the Dean of the College, John L. Peterson, the Dean of the Cathedral, John Tidy, and the Rt. Revd. Alfred Holland, the College’s Chaplain—marked the completion of a major phase in the College’s enlargement and renovation.
The biblical garden at St George’s College has delighted pilgrims, friends and visitors for more than 20 years. They find their minds, bodies and spirits refreshed in this veritable oasis of biblical flora.